It comes in all shapes and sizes and sometimes we’re completely unaware of it. That’s right, you guessed it – gossip.
“Oh my gosh, did you hear about Becky?”
“You’ll never believe what John did.”
“I can’t believe she would do this to me…”
And, the scenarios go on and on.
Flashback to my freshman year of high school: a rumor spread like wildfire around my class that I did something that was completely false not to mention, completely unlike anything I would do. In between classes I went to the bathroom in Hall B and as I locked the stall door behind me I heard two girls walk into the restroom. They began talking about and making fun of me because of this rumor. Their gossip not only helped spread the wildfire but it also left a burning memory in my mind that has lasted to this day.
Call it what you want, an insecurity from the past, or a defense mechanism, but the very thing that I fell victim to I later became a participant of. It wasn’t until a dear friend of mine, loved me enough to call me out on it, that I realized I was just as guilty as those girls were that day in the bathroom.
So let’s just rip the band-aid off and admit it…we all have gossiped.
Does this make you an awful person? No. It just makes you human. Here’s the thing, the type of gossip we all partake in, is the gossip that we don’t realize is gossip. It’s a type of gossip that has no real, “ill-will,” in the first place. It’s the gossip between friends.
Wrap it up in whatever pretty bow you want, it is still gossip. We find ways to rationalize our words and actions and disguise it as, “genuine concern,” for the other person, but somewhere along the way we have misidentified idle gossip for constructive conversation.
No matter the “intention” or “excuse” behind it, gossip is one of the ugliest and destructive realities that exists in so many of our friendships. We sit around the table with our coffee, or tea, in hand as we share all the juicy details we’ve collected about our friends, and laugh, or scoff, at their actions. Yet, if that friend walked in at that moment, without a doubt, the conversation would change.
So what do we do about this vicious cycle we’ve created for ourselves?
Well friends, the answer is simple. Most answers to our problems are…they’re just hard to live out. The solution to gossip is not so much an action check, but a heart check.
From the heart, the mouth speaks. Is what you’re sharing about your friend honoring and uplifting? Or is it degrading and destructive? If a friend begins to share information that you know doesn’t need to be shared and isn’t adding anything positive to the conversation, be the leader that you are and be the first to speak up and stop it from progressing. Don’t engage, or change the subject.
I never want to be the person that people say, “Oh you can’t trust her with your information…she just tells everyone about it.” Or, “Heather is so negative…every time I’m around her she just speaks so poorly of others.”
If we can start making the conscious decisions to really listen to the conversations we’re having, checking our heart and intentions, we will not only stop the ugliness of gossip from infecting our heart, but eventually the hearts of others around us as well.
I know that sometimes it feels as if saying a small bit of information can seem harmless, and even fun in the moment, but the aftermath effects are tragic. It is not worth it. So, the next time the thought pops into your head to “share” a small story about someone, ask yourself this: does this honor and uplift my friend? Is it pure and noble? Or am I doing a dishonor by sharing the information? I encourage you to be the type friend who ends the conversation and not to engage. You and your friendships will be so much healthier in the long run. I promise.
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”